The Final Cut

FinalCutThe Final Cut, a sci-fi movie starring Robin Williams, is an externalized illustration of the brain’s process of creating memories. The movie stresses how our belief in the truth of what we remember is often flawed by our limited perception and skewed interpretation of any given event, including every day activities.

In the movie, some people have opted to have chips implanted in their heads to record all their daily activities. Robin Williams is a cutter (an editor) of memories, who is brought in after someone dies. His job is to take those recordings and create a feature-length ‘film’ of memories as a keepsake for the deceased person’s family and friends.

Robin is the personification of what our own brains do, which is to analyze, edit, and store memories. Out of the millions of stimuli that we encounter every minute of every day, our brains decide what is worth keeping and what isn’t. It also needs to interpret those bits and pieces, and then determine how to fit them together into some type of cohesive event.

For instance, in getting ready to go to work, there is input from kids, spouse, TV/radio, emails, texts, pets, neighbors, and neighborhood. Your brain must decide what to take in and what to leave out, put it all together into some pattern that makes sense, and then store it under the heading “May 4, 2017, Thursday morning” (or something to that effect).

Now, if it’s very similar to every other morning, it may not even get a special title. It may just be entered into a group file called, “weekly mornings.” That makes it harder to pull out and review later, because it’s simply lumped with every other early morning routine. So, if someone asks if you brushed your teeth, you’ll probably say, “yes,” because that’s what you do every day. But what if you didn’t? What if, for some reason, you ran out of time, so skipped that step in your routine. It wasn’t a big enough deal for your brain to create a separate file for that day, so you can never be sure whether you really brushed them or not. But say your tire was flat and you had to take public transportation. That is different enough that the memory probably got its own little storage file. Especially, if you encountered someone strange and interesting on the bus or train that you had to take.

So, not every memory is sacred to your brain, and not every memory can be recalled in detail. Add to that the fact that your brain also has ego telling it what to do. Ego doesn’t like to look bad, so it’s going to tell your brain to skew certain things in your favor. Just like the cutter in the movie, you will store your memories, but some will ‘need’ a bit of editing.

Did you and your girl/boyfriend just break up? Well, obviously, it wasn’t your fault. Even if it was, it wasn’t; and that is what your brain will record in your memory. Did you just lose your job? Again, that memory will only be stored once the editing is done. The loss was a positive; the loss wasn’t your fault; the job was beneath you. All the details leading up to and including the day the event occurred will support this positive conclusion. While any of the ‘facts’ that don’t support the conclusion will be forgotten (or edited out). So, instead of seeing yourself as the one who was always neglectful, late, and irresponsible, it will be the person you were dating. Therefore, the memories your brain stores will support that conclusion, and any memories that indicate otherwise, will be eliminated from long-term storage.

Everyone wants to believe that their memories are truthful and infallible, but unfortunately, we all carry our own editor around with us everywhere we go. That means that every memory is just one version of reality. It also means that every person who was involved in the event, even just those every day occurrences such as getting ready for work, has their own version, their own memory.

So, the next time you question (even in your head) how someone could be recalling a moment or a day so differently from how you recall it, remember that you all have your own editor. And that editor has its own agenda and its own perceptions.

Lighting the World…1 Book at a Time

old-books-candleAs an author do you ever wonder why you even bother? Do you sometimes think that no one in the world is ever going to notice your endeavors? Sometimes it’s easy to lose the light of our dreams and end up in the darkness of our own thoughts.

Sometime it’s easy to convince ourselves that because our sales are low (or non-existent) that it must be because no one reads anymore or because no one cares about the written word. But that is simply not true. In fact, some of the most successful, richest, and smartest people in the world today claim that reading is what helped them get to where there are.

In several interviews over the years, Warren Buffett has stated that he spends five to six hours per day reading five newspapers and at least 500 pages of corporate reports.

Bill Gates says he reads 50 books per year. He also blogs about them. He says he enjoys making recommendations about those books he feels can help change view points or bring about insights. And while he says he doesn’t read much fiction, he will if the book is recommended to him by someone he respects. In fact, the last piece of fiction he read (and blogged about) was one that his wife really enjoyed, so he wanted to see what it was all about.

Another avid reader is Mark Zuckerberg. He says he reads at least one book every two weeks. Some are books that others recommend to him, and others are titles that he comes across himself.

Elon Musk grew up reading two books a day, according to his brother, and still tries to find time to read whenever he can. Mr. Musk claims that reading gives him peace of mind and helps him find the answers to stubborn problems by taking his mind off of the issue for a while.

Oprah Winfrey credits books with a great deal of her success. She says, “Books were my pass to personal freedom.” In fact, both Ellen DeGeneres and Oprah Winfrey have a section on their websites where they recommend books or authors that they like.

Arthur Blank, co-founder of Home Depot, reads two hours day. He’s not particular as to whether he reads fiction or non-fiction as long as what he reads helps him open his mind to new ideas.

Dan Gilbert, self-made billionaire and owner of the Cleveland Cavaliers, also reads one to two hours a day.

Therefore, while it may seem easier to claim that reading is dead or to believe that no one takes the time to read books anymore, the fact is, books and the printed word are still important and impactful. And who’s to say that the young adult or teenager who reads our books today won’t turn out to be the next Elon Musk, Ellen DeGeneres, or Mark Zuckerberg?

Every book is a little bit of light in the darkness of illiteracy, ignorance, and bias. Books bring different perspectives and insights to others. Whether the book is fiction or non-fiction, it can help others view the world from a different angle. So, take heart and remember: that every reader who finds your books extends that light a little further, and a little further…until soon the whole world will be lit up.

A review of “How to Self-Promote…”

BK_bookcover“How to Self-Promote Without Being a Jerk” by Bruce Kasanoff

Summary: This book purports to help you promote yourself and your service or product by showing you how to be the best you you can be.

Recommended: Yes

Review: the book is primarily a collection of insights based on common sense. Yet, even common sense isn’t always common or easily recognized when it pushes you to step outside your comfort zone.

This book holds your hand as you step beyond your self-doubts and venture into that world of “I am worth it.”

Unlike most similar books, Mr. Kasanoff actually explains how to take these baby steps. He doesn’t just tell you that you need to be generous, he explains some of the ways you can be generous and still end up promoting yourself. For instance, his first chapter (which is entitled, “Help This Person”) explains how you can help yourself by helping others (really helping others, not just going through the motions). He makes it seem so easy that you wonder why you hadn’t thought of it yourself. In fact, I found myself nodding along as I read, while thinking, “I can do that.” One of the examples he gives of helping others to help yourself is this: when the phone rings on a busy day, don’t get frustrated by the interruption. Instead, think about how you can help the person who is calling…really help them. When you help them, they remember you (in a positive way). Then when you need help, they want to return the favor.

All his chapters are like this. Each one helps you determine how to be the kind of person other people want to help, want to promote, and want to remember.

It’s a fast read, but one read-through isn’t enough. This is the type of book you will find yourself referring to over and over again.

 

 

Interview with the Characters from Danaria

Starstone_Front_Cover_Only - 1A friend and I were speaking the other day about fictional characters and what it might be like to sit down with them and actually speak to them about their plans, desires, wants, and needs. I was so taken with the concept that I decided to use the library interview questions that I answered to find out more about the characters in my fantasy series. So, to find out what Joelnar, Darkwind, Neerah, Phessari, and Marek think, keep reading.

Q: What do you want most from life?

Joelnar: A quiet life of raising horses that I can share with a wife and family.
Darkwind: If not love, then at least acceptance. Everyone fears me and thinks that I’m this terrible, awful person, but they don’t know me…at least not the true me.
Neerah: I thought I wanted love and adventure, but now I’m not so sure about the adventure, anyway.
Phessari: I want to share my life with someone while using my healing talents to help people.
Marek: Honor. I want to regain, and then maintain my honor so that I and my partner can lead our people and keep our village strong.

Q: What do you notice first about people?

Joelnar: How open they are. If a person is trustworthy, they tend to be more open in the way they present themselves and speak to you, because they have nothing to hide.
Darkwind: I used to take everyone at face value. Now, however, I try to note their energy patterns to see how believable and trustworthy someone is. Despite my ‘age,’ I still have a lot to learn about people.
Neerah: I notice a person’s face and whether the person is smiling or frowning, or looks friendly or sour. If they’re sour, like old lady Enderas, then I would rather not have to spend time with them.
Phessari: Their aura. A person’s energy signature precedes them by at least four feet, so it’s the first thing I sense, and it gives me so much information about the person.
Marek: How they carry themselves. A proud and honorable person is comfortable with themselves, meets your gaze, and stands tall and strong.

Q: What do you appreciate the most in your friends?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I can’t say that I have ever really had any friends. But if I did, I should like them to be understanding and kind.
Neerah: Fun. I love friends who enjoy life.
Phessari: Respect. It’s not easy for some people to respect someone with different values or beliefs. So, I really appreciate having friends who respect me.
Marek: Loyalty. When I go into battle, I expect my friends to be there with me. My fight should be their fight, and their fight is my fight.

Q: What is your main fault?

Joelnar: Dependability. I’m a very responsible person and I expect my friends to at least meet me half-way. If they tell me they’re going to do something, then I expect them to follow through.
Darkwind:
I’ve been told that I’m too controlling; but then, again, I’m rather reserved, so I get very uncomfortable in unstructured situations.
Neerah: Recklessness, I guess. Joelnar, Marmian, and my grandfather have all told me that I don’t think about the consequences of my actions; that I tend to just jump into things.
Phessari: My acceptance and my convictions in my faith. Sometimes I forget that not everyone is a believer.
Marek: Intolerance. I have been very intolerant of those who aren’t warriors or who do not follow warrior ways. I have little patience for spell-casters and the like.

Q: Do you have any regrets in your life, and if so, what?

Joelnar: Yes. I regret not going back to Darkwind’s when I first had the chance and rescuing my friend, Rafe, and my brother. But I’m determined to set them free, no matter what.
Darkwind:
I regret my interactions with Neerah. Of all those I have hurt, her pain cuts me the deepest.
Neerah: I regret not taking my opportunity with Joelnar when I had the chance back in the Forest of Reflections.
Phessari: I wish I knew more about the interactions of couples. I have spent so much time learning my skills as a healer that I have had little experience with emotional entanglements.
Marek: I regret my quick dismissal of those who do not follow the warrior’s path. I am just now beginning to understand that it takes more than being a great warrior to be a great person.

Q: What natural talent would you like to be gifted with?

Joelnar: I would like to have the touch with animals, especially horses, that my mother did. There wasn’t any animal anywhere that would shy away from her.
Darkwind:
Courage. I wish I had been braver when I first entered this world of physicality. Perhaps then, Ionee (now Neerah) would not have been so upset with me.
Neerah: Actually, I wish I could return the talent I was gifted with. I wish I couldn’t hear the gems singing, or use their power.
Phessari: I have already been blessed with so much, I would not ask the gods for more.
Marek: I have already been gifted with the skill and power of a mighty warrior. As a leader, this is the best talent to have.

Q: How do you wish to die?

Joelnar: Quietly, with my family around me.
Darkwind:
Free. If I die, I want to be free of d’Oessler’s control, and with Ionee’s forgiveness.
Neerah: I don’t wish to die at all. That’s morbid, ask me something else.
Phessari: I will accept whatever fate the gods may bless me with.
Marek: In battle, of course. That is how a warrior should die.

Q: What is your favorite motto?

Joelnar: With love and family, all things are possible.
Darkwind:
All are one.
Neerah: Life is a playground; let’s have fun.
Phessari: Life is a circular path leading to enlightenment.
Marek: Elai-gri nahk tie. Onward to battle!

 

Author bios…does anyone read them?

bookbackAuthor bios…does anyone ever read them?

It’s an interesting question to me, because I’m back to struggling with whether I should include a bio or not on my upcoming book; and, if I do, what information to include.

When I released my non-fiction books I agonized over what to do, but in the end, I didn’t include a bio on either of them. The Psychopomp book was autobiographical; therefore, I was already openly sharing myself and my life with complete strangers, what more could I offer. As for the Dream Symbol book, well…there was little in my background to indicate why I was qualified to interpret dreams or offer advice on interpreting dreams. (I mean, I’ve been interpreting dreams since I was a kid, but only for myself and any people who ask me—friends, family, acquaintances, co-workers. It’s not like I advertise it as a talent, make money from it, or make note of it on my resume or anything. It’s just something I’ve always done.)

So, now here I am getting ready to publish my first novel and wondering what qualifications do I have that would make anyone want to read my novel versus anyone else’s book? What can I say about myself that might intrigue someone enough to want to check out The Starstone?

I started to think about my own experiences. When I was growing up, I spent hours roaming libraries and book shops looking for books. The first thing I always noted was the title and the book cover. If those caught my attention, the book at least got removed from the shelf for a closer inspection. Then came the story synopsis…if it sounded good, I would read a chapter or two to see if I liked the author’s writing style.

The last thing I would check out was the author’s blurb. What I remember about those was that I wanted to know if the romance was written by a glamorous (or handsome), romantic-type person (Danielle Steele comes to mind, with her gorgeous photos and luxurious-sounding lifestyle); and was the adventure/thriller written by a dashing daredevil (Clive Cussler and his dashing Dirk Pitt were a daring duo).

But other bios that were quirky, humorous, or somehow stood out to me, might just get me to read a book that I was on the fence about. Perhaps the plot summary was just so-so, or the cover rather plain, but if the author bio made me laugh, it would make the book worth a look-see.

So, how about you? Do you read author bios and why?

authorpage

A Visionary Journey

school-books-appleSlidingDoors

 

 

 

 

 

 

 
Teacher: one who imparts knowledge or aids in the learning process. Someone who shows you the path to enlightenment through the use of various means and mediums.

Visionary Fiction: one of the mediums through which knowledge, wisdom, or enlightenment is imparted. It embraces spiritual and esoteric wisdom, often from ancient sources, and makes it relevant for our modern life. This wisdom is presented in story form and enables readers to experience the truth of the information and express it within themselves.

yinyang

Although I’ve never had the job title of teacher (or any of its variations), I have been a teacher my entire adult life. I teach philosophy, a world point of view based on my experiences, my insights, and my own understanding of how things work. But just as my topic is slightly unconventional, so are my methods of presentation. I don’t stand in the front of a classroom with a determined audience; instead, I have conversations, go to concerts or movies, write visionary fiction and other types of pieces, and generally just participate in life.

Actually, visionary fiction is a new term for me, but one that fits my writing style like a custom-made garment. I never labeled my musings and blog postings. I simply referred to them as “those paranormal and fantastical ramblings of mine…”, or “the musings of a soul needing to share…” As for my books, well…those got listed as paranormal or fantasy for lack of anything better.

But another blogger and author, Ellis Nelson, happened to peruse my blog site and left her calling card for me. I followed her back to her blog, EllisNelson (which has some interesting posts on it), and the first post I read was “I Write Visionary Fiction – Who Knew?

I used her VFA membership link to get to the Visionary Fiction Alliance (VFA) website. There I learned more about what visionary fiction was and what the VFA was all about. Visionary fiction is an actual book genre, which focuses on the primary characters’ growing awareness and enlightenment by using reincarnation, dreams, visions, and psychic abilities as key parts of the story.

Since this echoes my own life and philosophy, it has been only natural for me to incorporate these elements into my stories. After all, you’re supposed to write about what you know, and what I know the most about is (what most people consider) the paranormal. So now, instead of labeling my books and stories paranormal or fantasy, I can use a label that is closer to the truth—visionary fiction.

For me, visiting Ellis Nelson and the VFA has been an enlightening journey. Make the journey yourself. Click the VFA icon in the right sidebar and find out what the VFA can offer readers and authors.

 

Ripples of Effects

waterRings-4x6We’ve all heard of the butterfly which, when it flaps its wings in Tokyo, causes rain in New York, but do any of us realize that each of us also creates ripples and waves in the ocean of reality that surrounds all of us?

Just like that butterfly, every time we make a choice, rings of consequences flow outward through the energies surrounding us. Eventually they impact the energies of the people nearest us, who then make choices that then affect those near them, and outward and onward. It’s very similar to what happens when you drop a pebble in the water. The rings flow outward until they collide with something; then sometimes the rings stop, but other times they simply split and keep going.

So, what if you drop several pebbles into the water? Now you have rings flowing into rings, flowing into rings. Each ring spawning another, just as each choice spawns another. For instance, let’s say that you get up one morning and as you come into the kitchen you decide to have oatmeal instead of toast. The extra few moments it takes for you to microwave and eat your oatmeal makes you a few minutes later in leaving than normal. So, in your haste, you skip kissing your spouse and settle for a quick “Bye. See ya later…” instead.

What’s the big deal? It’s such a small choice what can it possibly affect? Well, a butterfly is a small thing, yet it can cause rain in New York. But let’s follow our scenario and see where it goes.

The spouse has chosen to be miffed at not getting a morning kiss (consequence and chosen response). Because the spouse is miffed, they drive in an angrier manner than usual. This choice affects everyone they encounter on the road between home and office, and each of those people then makes a non-conscious choice to respond to the spouse’s angry driving in some way. They might decide to ignore it; they might decide to compete with it; they might decide to advance the anger into a rage. All are valid choices that are spawned by the ring of consequence from the spouse, and each of these choices kicks off its own rings of consequences. All of this just because you chose to eat oatmeal instead of toast.

It’s simplistic for sure, but it does illustrate how easily something you might not even really think about can affect more than just yourself. It also shows that what affects someone else, then affects another group of people, and so forth.

Each day you make thousands of choices, some large and noticeable by you and by others (such as whether you should buy the new car, take a vacation, or have a baby), while others are small and seemingly negligible and may be made without any real thought (such as sleeping in 5 or 10 minutes later than normal, wearing the green or blue tie to work, or having toast or oatmeal for breakfast).

Some choices are such habits that we give them no thought at all, such as brushing our teeth, kissing our spouse goodbye for the day, or the choices we make while driving to work and back. But each of those choices, from the smallest to the largest, to the ones we really ponder to the ones we do out of habit, is what creates our personal reality. Without all of those choices, our personal reality wouldn’t exist. However, some of our personal choices spill over and affect the people around us. Perhaps you were running late, so you didn’t brush your teeth today, and your bad breath annoyed your seat mate on the train. That annoyance made him snap at his secretary, who then complained to her friend, who missed a phone call because she was listening to her friend complain, and so on.

Each of us makes choices on how we will act, what we will do, and how we will react to someone else. And every time we make a choice, we send out rippling rings of energy, and those ripples flow outward until they connect with one or more someone elses. Then those people act or react to the energies and create their own rippling rings of energies. Soon the whole world is filled with these rippling rings of energy, mixing, interacting and merging, creating a global reality with each new wave.

So, if we choose to be kind and upbeat, full of positivity and happy energies, this creates a very positive energy that ripples outward and touches all those around you. And if those around you take that energy and decide to react in a happy and positive way, then they send out positive waves of energy, and pretty soon the whole world is just filled with nothing but positive energies.

Think about it…no more fear, no more intolerance, no more hate or war, just happy positive energies filling the world. Is it possible? Of course. Is it probable? Maybe not, but why not make a choice to give it a try, anyway?